In honours programmes students and teachers often form a contact network that makes an important contribution to the development of the students. These ‘honours communities’ encourage productive interactions among students and between students, teachers and other professionals within and outside the honours programme. In the literature, little information is available about the features and functions of honours communities. These features and functions are central to this study, conducted in five honours programs at Dutch universities. The research was conducted on the basis of document analysis, interviews and surveys. Five key features have been found: a network of frequent contacts; a shared passion for excellence and challenge; a shared sense of community ownership; a culture of excellence; and a shared interaction repertoire. In addition, four additional features are found and three functions of honours communities. Finally, seven strategies for the development of honours communities are formulated.
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